Embracing generative AI will enhance, not replace, the humanity in commercial models

Sales & Marketing
AI and human

Discussions about the impact of AI have gained prominence this year. Business leaders have taken note, with a recent Accenture report finding that 98% of global executives agree that AI will play an important role in their organisation’s strategy in the next three to five years.

Much has been made of the importance of generative AI to drug discovery and clinical trials – but, done right, AI will also have a significant effect on commercialisation. It has the potential to transform the healthcare provider (HCP) engagement model.

Some businesses might be apprehensive about integrating AI without compromising their personal touch or diminishing their business model's effectiveness. However, when properly incorporated, AI can enhance and augment the significance of human interaction instead of replacing it.

Transforming pharma’s commercial impact

When it comes to commercialisation, AI has the potential to accelerate and tailor strategic planning activities, such as market and competitor assessments, and help speed up the journey to launch by enabling teams to make faster and more accurate decisions.

AI-powered social listening, HCP trends research, persona creation, and journey mapping will fuel more dynamic and nimble customer engagement strategies. Generative AI will also reinvent the art of content development and drive the creation of predictive and customised sales materials.

As for the content supply chain, AI will accelerate and enhance the review and approval process to confirm adherence to MLR (medical, legal, regulatory) and brand standards, inclusivity of messaging, and more. As they bring the human touch to HCP engagement, field teams will in turn amplify their impact with recommended talk tracks, curated content, and the ability to solve customer issues faster.

The overall effect of this is shortening what can often be a marathon product launch process to months, instead of years. Once launched, businesses will drive higher levels of sales through better HCP and stakeholder interactions. Effectively, AI can help make things more personal for healthcare professionals and patients on a large scale.

Embedding AI the right way

Undoubtedly there may be concerns about generative AI and its impact on the workplace, and many will be wondering whether generative AI is a friend or foe.

The first key consideration for businesses is around recruiting talent. Some marketing and field colleagues might feel their jobs are at risk, but our study shows that workers could be freed up, with 25% more time for important tasks. To prepare the workforce for this future, pharmaceutical companies should carefully plan the journey they will need to embark on as they embrace generative AI’s potential. Using AI training techniques is one way to build trust in AI by allowing employees to experience its benefits first hand.

If done successfully, learning more about AI and using it fully will save time for marketing and sales teams, allowing them to focus on important tasks that need a human touch. Reps, for example, could spend less time on pre-call planning and more time building customer relationships. The key will be to blend generative AI with their own insight and emotional intelligence to improve personal engagement.

It’s also important that businesses take time to test and build AI into their commercial models. Starting small and scaling gradually will be key to getting this right for businesses. Pharmaceutical companies should find clear and realistic examples to experiment with and learn from. By doing this, they can better decide which performance measures to use and how to scale this technology.

While this makes things flexible, it's also important to set up rules, guidelines, and ways to handle risks from the start. This ensures that advanced AI is used safely and responsibly. This is even more important for pharmaceutical companies, given the industry’s highly regulated nature and the sensitivity of health data. Pharma businesses should involve their commercial teams from day one in the planning and execution of proofs of concept to invite co-creation, and capture real-time feedback and ideas to maximise early buy-in.

A new era for life sciences

Generative AI has initiated a new era of intelligence for our industry. While we are still very much in the test and learn phase, it will soon become a competitive necessity for businesses. It brings huge opportunities for how we approach sales and marketing in pharmaceuticals, and, if done right, it will enhance human connection to deliver better results for companies, HCPs, and patients.

Now is the time for life sciences companies to explore. Businesses should be looking to understand how it could benefit their business practices, bringing workforces along with them, but also making sure that there are robust policies and considerations in place to understand the limitations or potential risks. Businesses that embrace the AI challenge early will reap the benefits in the long run.

Laura Dix
Laura Dix
23 October, 2023